Second Emancipation Day marked in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia celebrated Emancipation Day for the second time with a ceremony in Halifax on Monday that included speeches and musical performances.

August 1 is the anniversary of the day in 1834 when slavery was abolished in the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act. The federal and Nova Scotian governments voted last year to recognize Emancipation Day.

“Today we can celebrate our strength and determination to overcome this adversity. It is also a time to commemorate the pain and struggle endured by the practice of slavery,” said Russell Grosse, Managing Director of the Black Cultural Center for Nova Scotia. and one of the speakers at the event.

Federal Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen spoke at the ceremony, along with other Black Nova Scotia politicians and leaders.

Louise Delisle, a Black elder and activist from Nova Scotia, gave the closing remarks.

Speakers at the Emancipation Day ceremony included Russell Grosse, left, Pat Dunn, second from left, and Louise Delisle. (Victoria Welland/CBC)

“The enslavement of our African ancestors was demoralizing, dehumanizing and brutal from the moment they were stolen from their homes in Africa,” Delisle said.

« They remained brave, resolute and resilient in their fight, which allows us to be here today. »

Delisle said Emancipation Day is also about acknowledging the realities of our history.

« So for those who aren’t comfortable talking about slavery, claiming it’s something of the past and therefore we shouldn’t be digging it up – I disagree. «

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard was in the audience. In an interview afterwards, she said she had mixed feelings about the commemoration of the day.

« Part of me is really happy to see these celebrations, these official ceremonies to mark the day. I think it’s really, really important, » she said. « But the other part of me is saying, so what’s next? What actions will follow the marking of the day? »

August 1 has been officially designated as Emancipation Day in Nova Scotia on April 13, 2021. (Victoria Welland/CBC)

Thomas Bernard recently called on the government to officially apologize for slavery and provide reparations to black Canadians.

The National Black Canadian Summit wrapped up Sunday in Halifax. The Halifax Declaration was presented with a wide range of calls for action from institutions and all levels of government.

The statement echoed Thomas Bernard’s call for an apology and reparations.

Pat Dunn, provincial minister of African Nova Scotian affairs, did not respond directly to questions from the CBC about what action his government would take in response to the Halifax declaration.

« We’ve had conversations and will continue to have ongoing conversations about this, » Dunn said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(Radio Canada)



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